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ND Class 3A state football: Bismarck topples West Fargo to advance

BISMARCK - Bismarck senior Esley Thorton didn't get to be an all-state quarterback by chance. That's why it wasn't surprising when Thorton's heads-up play turned a Jake Miller fumble into a 55-yard touchdown run against West Fargo on Saturday in ...

BISMARCK - Bismarck senior Esley Thorton didn't get to be an all-state quarterback by chance.

That's why it wasn't surprising when Thorton's heads-up play turned a Jake Miller fumble into a 55-yard touchdown run against West Fargo on Saturday in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class 3A state football playoffs at the Community Bowl.

Thorton's dash, along with two rushing touchdowns and two touchdown passes, carried the Demons to a 42-14 win over West Fargo. The Demons beat the Packers by an identical score in last year's quarterfinals.

The top-ranked Demons (11-0), winners of 21 straight games, will play Fargo South in the title game at the Dakota Bowl in Fargo on Saturday. It will be the third straight time the Class 3A heavyweights will have played for the championship.

"We're glad we made it, but our goal wasn't to make it, but to win it. We've got to finish it out," said Thorton, whose day included 40 yards rushing, 114 yards passing and a hand in five scores.

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"We're explosive," Bismarck coach Mark Gibson said.

That was evident in Bismarck's latest blowout. Thorton was 7-for-9 passing with TD strikes of 8 yards to Alex Deyle in the first quarter and 50 yards to Carson Winkels in the third. Thorton also scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards.

After being stopped on downs the first time it had the ball, Bismarck scored on six of its next seven possessions. The only time it didn't score - other than when time expired on its last drive - was when Thorton was intercepted by Levi Bachmeier late in the second quarter.

Trailing 14-7, the Packers had an opportunity to tie the game after the interception, but a holding penalty killed their chance from inside the Demons' 5-yard line and they missed a field goal with 1:38 left in the half.

Bismarck proceeded to march 80 yards in five plays to go up 21-7 with 53 seconds left in the half.

"It could have been 14-14," West Fargo coach Jay Gibson said. "It's hard to get yards the closer you get, but I was feeling pretty good.

We had five plays to score and we didn't and then we missed a field goal. They went (80) yards to get a touchdown like nothing. They're really something."

WF 0 7 7 0-14

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B 7 14 14 7-42

B-Deyle 8 pass from Thorton (Krueger kick)

B-Thorton 1 run (Krueger kick

WF-Nelson 23 pass from Lehmann (Salter kick)

B-Thorton 3 run (Krueger kick)

B-Winkels 50 pass from Thorton (Krueger kick)

WF-Schwartz 20 pass from Jorgenson (Salter kick)

B-Thorton 55 fumble return (Krueger kick)

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B-Mann 4 run (Krueger kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: WF, Jorgenson 12-9, Kiefer 8-24, Lehmann 3-11. B, Thorton 8-40, Miller 21-142, Winkels 1-3, Deyle 1-(-2), Vogel 2-3, Mann 16-56, Lange 1-0.

PASSING: WF, Jorgenson 14-25-1 156 yards, Lehmann 1-1-0 23. B-Thorton 7-9-1 114.

RECEIVING: WF, Neer 4-65, Schwartz 3-46, Nelson 3-47, Kiefer 5-19, Pistorius 1-2. B, Krueger 1-7, Jolliffe 1-8, Miller 2-41, Winkels 1-50, Deyle 2-8.

Related Topics: BISMARCKFOOTBALL
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